Today at the Royal Ontario Museum the documentary RiP: A remix manifesto by the web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor was screened for Advertising Week Canada. It explores the issue of copyright in the information as an attack on culture and their ability to create.
His main example was Girl Talk a Canadian musician who takes samples of songs and beats from other artists and remixes them into something new. He could take a bit of Journey and mix it with some Led Zeppelin and throw in anything else in-between. This was the example that Gaylor goes back to again and again throughout the documentary.
This a great doc that focuses on the culture wars through ideas that organizations seek to control through intellectual properties and the patent system that Gaylor sees as stifling innovation according to the 4 rules that he sets out in his film:
1. Culture always builds on the past
2. The past always tries to control the future
3. Our future is becoming less free
4. To build free societies you must eliminate the control of the past
Gaylor argues that historically innovation has occurred because inventors and entrepreneurs continually built on the past by making improvements in existing technology. The powers that be today try to limit that through their lobby groups like the RIAA to sue people as a way to deter everyone else. This is a strategy they pursued for years with negligible results and have since changed.
They use napster as an example of how business is trying to control how and when we consume media but as they say in the documentary there are more of us than there are of them and peer to peer technology like napster and bit torrent have made most of us pirates at some point.A more recent example of this is the closure of one of the peer to peer services Limewire (via a PC World article) which was created out of the death of napster as a peer to peer file sharing service.
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t copied a mp3 or downloaded their favourite show from the internet. Beyond technology Gaylor shows how patents used to protect ideas have led to severe limitations for companies doing research in science and technology and because organizations fear litigation they are less likely to build on past innovations in many instances which shows how broken a system meant to reward innovation has swung so far to the other extreme, protecting the organization at the expense of society.
They use Brazil as an example as a country who has broken patents to provide medicine for aids treatment that they offer to their citizens. This is a movie about the remix, the mash up and how many people are not passive consumers of content but are now creating something new by taking the old and changing it to become completely different.So this is the clash of culture between that which tries to control and those who seek to create.
Great job to Gaylor and if anyone wants to start remixing go to http://www.opensourcecinema.org and get started because we can always use a great remix, awesome mash-up or parody.
In the spirit of remixing you can view the entire documentary here: